Square Pegs in Round Holes?

When I first arrived at my role as the General Manager of a golf club in Dubai in the summer of 2000, I found many problems with harmony and teamwork among the staff at the club and realized that I had to try and do something about this.   A friend suggested that we should use ‘Belbin’ to help solve the problems.   I had not heard of Belbin before, so decided to find out more….. 

Through years of research, Professor Meredith Belbin had identified nine types of behaviour commonly found in successful teams, to which he gave distinctive and meaningful role names.  Belbin discovered that the key to successful teams lies in the correct balance of these team roles.  His theory has enabled thousands of organisations across the world to harness the strengths and increase productivity of those who work there.  His tried and tested application in the workplace of all sizes of company, across all industries and cultures makes it an invaluable aid to ensuring that the right people are selected to do the right job – whether that is internal recruitment and promotion or external recruitment.

He was a previous chairman of the Industrial Training Research Unit and founder member of Belbin Associates and Cambridge Recruitment Consultants.  He holds a number of academic and industrial posts and is the author of many books.  

Here is a short summary of the nine Belbin team roles and some examples of people and/or characters you may know who fit into each category:

  1. Monitor Evaluator:  Serious-minded, prudent, deep-thinker who is frequently dry and boring.  Example:  Former PM Gordon Brown

  2. Team Worker:  Supportive, mild, sociable, flexible and concerned about others. Perceptive and diplomatic.  Example:  Chef Jamie Oliver 

  3. Completer Finisher:  Good at following-through, concentrates on work with attention to detail.  Introverted, precise and is good at meeting deadlines.  Example:  Tiger Woods

  4. Resource Investigator:   Enthusiastic, extrovert and with an outgoing nature.  Inquisitive, sees possibilities and thinks on their feet.  Example:  Derek Trotter (Del-Boy from Only Fools and Horses played by David Jason)

  5. Shaper:  Highly motivated, with lots of nervous energy. Aggressive with a strong drive for success.  Headstrong and thick-skinned.   Example:  Sir Alan Sugar

  6. Co-ordinator:   Gets others to work towards shared goals, mature and confident. Tackles problems calmly.  Example:  Ronald Reagan

  7. Specialist:  Dedicated and focused.  Shows great pride in their own subject. Decisions made on in-depth experience.  Example:  Professor Stephen Hawking

  8. Implementer:   Practical and disciplined, works through problems systematically. Unconcerned with self-interest, loyal to the cause.  Example:  Jack Bauer (The character played by Keifer Sutherland in the TV series ‘24’)

  9. Plant:  Innovator and inventor.  Highly creative and artistic.  Operates alone and is introverted and independent, and usually very clever.  Example:  Anita Roddick (founder of BodyShop)

“The only way an organisation can grow, stay true to its soul and remain consistently successful is to attract, hire and keep great people.  It’s as simple and as hard as that. I have always placed the highest premium on hiring the best possible staff to engage our guests”.

This quote is from Danny Meyer, the President of Union Square Hospitality Group in New York and is just as relevant and appropriate to all types of businesses in the golf industry today.

In Dubai, we used Belbin’s methods to place all existing staff into their categories, and we found that we had several people in the same category, and none in other categories.  In a  footballing analogy, this was like having a team of 11 strikers and no defenders!   With this knowledge, I was careful to ensure that I recruited people into the team with character traits that complimented the team, and fitted the needs of the business.  Over perhaps 2-3 years, with some people leaving and others joining, I soon had the best-performing team possible, with all nine Belbin team roles covered.

For more information on how you could use Belbin to make sure you recruit the right type of people into your business, please get in touch.